Wenceslaus (Václav) Hollar was born in Prague in 1607. He was a contemporary of Rembrandt and Van Dyck. Hollar's prints of London have special significance for historians: it is largely from his work that we know what the city looked like in the mid-17th century.
From the age of 20, he spent nine years in the Rhineland engraving for publishers such as Merian, until in 1636 his talent was spotted by the Earl of Arundel, a great patron of art. Arundel took Hollar back to England, where he employed him to make copy-prints as a record of his vast art collection at Arundel House. From 1652 to his death, Hollar spent much of his time producing prints for Sir William Dugdale, the antiquary, and for John Ogilby, publisher and map-maker. Hollar was also appointed 'royal scenographer' to King Charles II in 1666.
Hollar was exceptionally prolific and had a wide range of interests. He produced about three thousand etchings, an average of about one plate per week throughout his working life. Portraits, landscapes, costume, natural history, maps, historical scenes and panoramas are all represented in his work. His etchings and drawings are characterized by directness, attention to detail, and in the words of one authority, 'tranquil, unaggressive realism'. Hollar's prints of London have special significance for historians: it is largely from his work that we know what the city looked like in the mid-17th century.